2020 KOSBE Annual Report

Page 12


Rollin’ on the Freeway to Somewhere Soon

American Tours & Charters Inc.

Charles Maxwell, the owner of American Tours & Charters Inc., hopes the second time around is better. Maxwell had owned and operated a similar business called Maxwell Coach several years ago but decided to shut it down to eliminate the "headaches" of running his own business. Quite the reverse, he discovered that the "headaches" were still his, and not being the owner made it more difficult to tolerate. As a humble employee, the lack of control and limited decision-making was ultimately the job’s downfall. After a three-year hiatus, it was obvious to Maxwell that he wanted to start another tour bus company of his own – the sooner the better. Maxwell already knew how to gather competitive intelligence and develop a new business plan. He needed help with identifying capital sources and avoiding organization missteps. Maxwell connected with the Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), since TSBDC at ETSU was instrumental in assisting him when he established his first tour bus business. He set up a meeting with the TSBDC at ETSU Kingsport Affiliate Office (KOSBE) to inquire about various financing options: self-financing, bank financing, and leasing. He also had questions about regulatory requirements, for example, whether he needed to get a new DOT Number since he had one previously assigned. The TSBDC helped Maxwell search the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration web site and locate answers to several questions. TSBDC also guided Maxwell through setting up the S-Corporation and developing a short-term marketing strategy. With legal business entity filings in hand, he was able to obtain the financing he needed for a newer model tour bus. By November 2019 Maxwell was up and running again, as American Tours & Charters Inc. He has not taken his foot off the gas pedal since starting the business. He continues to learn and attend training events at the TSBDC. He has invested a total of 14 hours in business building and other support services. Recently, the travel industry as a whole has been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. In January 2020, Maxwell joined the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce to sustain his business and cultivate key partnerships with travel industry members. When asked what keeps him up at night, Maxwell said: “Prospective passengers are going stir crazy after the prolonged quarantine. They are very anxious to get on the freeway going somewhere soon. Thanks to the TSBDC at ETSU Kingsport Affiliate Office, I am equipped and empowered to face this and future challenges. I don’t know where I would be without TSBDC.” Maxwell’s proven track record and his ability to foster and grow valuable customer relationships positions American Tours & Charters Inc. to succeed, nevertheless.


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